Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Please Support Common Dreams This #GivingTuesday

Our staff has grown and our coverage of the climate emergency, COVID-19, and rising authoritarianism has intensified over the last two years. But, our expenses during the pandemic have gone up as well. This has been one of the toughest years we’ve ever faced. Donations are down. Traffic to the website from Google and Facebook have inexplicably fallen off a cliff. If we have any chance of meeting our fundraising targets for the year, we need this to be the best #GivingTuesday ever. Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers ever make a donation. We're counting on you. Can you make that gift today to help Common Dreams end the year strong?

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

Memorials outside the Tree of Life synagogue, Pittsburgh. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Memorials outside the Tree of Life synagogue, Pittsburgh. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Trump’s Judaism Order Has Nothing to Do With Fighting Anti-Semitism

The man who called neo-Nazis "very fine people" has no business defining anti-Semitism for the rest of us.

Sarah Gertler

 by OtherWords

The Trump administration says it’s anti-Semitic to criticize Israel. That’s the gist of a recent executive order that would treat campus calls to boycott Israel over its treatment of Palestinians as anti-Semitic discrimination on the basis of “national origin.”

Days after the order, the synagogue I most often attend here in Washington, D.C. became another of the hundreds in the U.S. to be vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti. Swastikas and the word “Jew” were found gouged into its historic doors.

This graffiti isn’t the symbol of the nonviolent boycott movement. It’s the symbol of the neo-Nazis Trump called “very fine people.”

Every mainstream headline I saw about Trump’s recent order seemed to accept that it was designed to combat anti-Semitism. You could almost forget that Trump himself is one of the single biggest dangers facing the Jewish community in this country today.

During his presidency, he’s called rooms full of Jewish people “brutal killers” while making excuses for Nazis after Charlottesville. His former chief strategist was the head of an alt-right website.

Trump has backed white supremacist conspiracies that migrant caravans are secretly funded by Jews, said Jews who vote for Democrats show “great disloyalty,” and — at his Hanukkah party, no less — gave the floor to a pastor who says that Jews are going to hell. Subtle.

And never mind that categorizing Jewishness as a “national origin” hearkens back to anti-Semitic trope that, wherever we go, we’re an “alien people.”

Under Trump, anti-Semitic hate crimes have skyrocketed to historic levels, and it’s affecting us all.

Every time I’m in a large Jewish gathering, I can’t help but think of the massacres in Pittsburgh and Poway and Jersey City. I find myself looking around the room, wondering: Will it happen here at high holiday services, or at this showing of Fiddler on the Roof with my friends?

The man whose presidency forces me to ask these questions is clearly not trying to protect me. So why did he pass this executive action?

The meat of this action is aimed at Israeli boycott movements on college campuses across the U.S. It threatens to withhold federal funding from schools where students organize events linked to the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

As a Jewish activist, let me assure you: Boycotting Israel is not anti-Semitic.

It’s been pushed for years by Trump education official Kenneth L. Marcus, who equates boycotting Israel with Holocaust denial. It’s the support of far-right figures like Marcus the president is after. As Trump recently told the Israeli American Council, “You have to vote for me. You have no choice.”

As a Jewish activist, let me assure you: Boycotting Israel is not anti-Semitic.

Aside from the fact that many of those fighting for their colleges to divest from Israel are Jewish themselves, the BDS movement is one of the only available ways to protest the U.S.-backed brutalization of Palestinians that’s continued ceaselessly for decades. This is a human rights issue, no matter your religion.

Shutting down BDS allows Trump to support Israel’s far-right government in systematically abusing Palestinians, secure the support of some politically powerful pro-Israel voters, and convince the public it’s being done in the name of protecting Jews.

It’s not. When Jews and non-Jews alike speak up for human rights and are crushed into silence, no one is safer. When congresspeople who speak up against this are slandered as anti-Semitic, while our clearly anti-Semitic president is not, no one is safer.

As a Jew, I know Trump is not supporting the people who congregate in synagogues to sing, eat, pray, and live. He’s emboldening the ones gouging swastikas into the doors.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Sarah Gertler

Sarah Gertler

Sarah Gertler is the Newman Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

WHO, South Africa Urge Nations to Lift 'Naive' Omicron Travel Bans

"The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic."

Brett Wilkins ·


EU Joins Rights Group in Condemning Israel's 'Day of Destruction' of Palestinian Homes

"Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace."

Brett Wilkins ·


GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·


Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo